Coronavirus Fears Sink World’s Biggest Mobile Trade Fair After US & Global Tech Giants Pull Out

With Facebook, Intel, Cisco, Sprint, Amazon, Nvidia, LG, Sony, Rakuten, Ericsson, Nokia, etc. out, the gig was up. Other big conferences in trouble too. Tourism industry is reeling.

By Nick Corbishley, for WOLF STREET:

The novel coronavirus, now named COVID-19, claimed a fresh victim outside China: the world’s biggest mobile trade fair, the Mobile World Congress (MWC). Contagion fears led a roster of tech and telecom companies, many of them non-Chinese, to announce they will be steering clear of the event, scheduled to take place in Barcelona on Feb 24-27. After dozens had pulled out, the event was canceled this evening.

The MWC has been an annual event in Barcelona since 2006, a key showcase for global tech giants and telcos. It attracted 110,000 people from almost 200 countries last year, including more than 5,000 from China. That sprawling global reach, once considered a major attraction, would make the event a perfect melting pot for transmission of COVID-19.

The first company to drop out, South Korean device manufacturer LG, also pulled out of Integrated Systems Europe, an Amsterdam audiovisual trade show, citing advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) that individuals should “promote social distancing” to minimize contagion of the virus. LG’s decision to withdrawal from the MWC last Friday sparked an exodus of industry stalwarts including Intel, Cisco, Sprint, LG, Sony, Ericsson, Facebook, Nokia, Amazon, Rakuten and Nvidia. On Wednesday, major carriers Vodafone, British Telecom, Orange and Deutsche Telekom joined the exodus.

Until today, the GSMA still insisted in public that the show must go on, even as the list of participating companies dwindled, hotel cancellations surged and the pressure mounted to cancel the event altogether.

GSMA last week unveiled a battery of measures to reduce the risk of contagion, including the intensive disinfection of surfaces, banning travelers from the Chinese province of Hubei (home to Wuhan), forcing all other Chinese participants to prove they have been out of China for at least 14 days prior to the conference, and taking the temperature of participants at all entrance points — despite new research showing that these measures might be ineffective.

Yet, some companies still wanted the event to go ahead, including the two Chinese giants, Huawei and Xiaomi.

The cancellation entails significant economic consequences:

  • The world’s biggest tech firms, unicorns and start-ups miss out on the chance to showcase their latest products to their biggest customers on the largest stage. Instead, they will have to launch their new products through their own marketing channels.
  • Airlines and travel agents will lose out on flights, tours, and other travel services of tens of thousands of customers.
  • Hotels in Barcelona are already reeling from a huge wave of cancellations. What should have been one of the busiest weeks of the year for the local tourist industry could well become one of the quietest.

The event generates 14,000 temporary jobs and around half a billion euros for the city each year, much of which ends up in the pockets of local taxi drivers, hoteliers, owners of bars and restaurants, prostitutes and their pimps and madams, Airbnb hosts, and the thousands of professional pickpockets that converge on the city for the four-day event. This year, those businesses and people will have to make do without that money.

For the global travel industry, the implications are stark. Contagion fears have already led to the cancellation of multiple events on mainland China and in Hong Kong, including Art Basel, one of the most important fixtures in the international art market calendar, and the Chinese Formula 1. Even outside the region, events have been cancelled, such as in Singapore, or have witnessed a sharp fall in delegate numbers from China, due to travel restrictions and risks.

China has become the crux of today’s global travel industry, which accounts for 10% of global gross domestic product. In 2019, the country received an estimated 142 million inbound tourists while the Chinese themselves made 5.5 billion trips domestically and 134 million trips abroad.

By contrast, during the SARS outbreak of 2002-03, China’s role as both a travel destination and a source country was small, receiving fewer than 38 million tourists and sending just 17 million tourists abroad. Even so, the SARS outbreak still resulted in a drop in international tourist arrivals of almost 9.4 million and losses of between US$30 billion and $50 billion.

This time around, given the much larger footprint of China’s travel industry, global travelers to China, and Chinese travelers around the world, the drastic actions taken to halt the spread of COVID-19 will have a much larger impact on the global travel industry. By Nick Corbishley, for WOLF STREET.

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  109 comments for “Coronavirus Fears Sink World’s Biggest Mobile Trade Fair After US & Global Tech Giants Pull Out

  1. Petunia says:

    Barcelona finally got its wish to get rid of all those tourist, now they will complain about the lack of income…

    The trade shows and retail in Asia are suffering. The luxury fashion houses in Europe are already disclosing sales are way down in Asia. For many of these brands Asia is the biggest market.

    • I believe that falls under “be careful what you wish for.” I do wonder if our next downturn will be a long and grinding contraction punctuated by events such as this now pandemic. Just several small but large enough cuts over a few years.

      • joe saba says:

        airBnB in trouble
        need more unicorn $$

      • mike says:

        Unfortunately, that event cancellation was only wise and should be followed by others. Similar actions are sure to follow at theaters, churches, etc. in countries with infected persons if this growth in cases keeps up.

        The most accurate, material information that the Chinese government gave out was that the virus was apparently being easily spread through the air. Thus, cancellation of all other, such events and fairs in any country with possible infected cases will soon follow.

        I would not take my family to any theme park or fair for now. Children do not tolerate respirators nor invasive medical procedures well.

        There will be some hidden spreaders at such events, even in the US, that do not intend to infect anyone but do not know that they are infected. Thousands of people have come into the US from the various countries with infected cases.

        If drastic steps are not taken, the number of infected may explode: growing exponentially every five or so days, as if you multiplied the number 2 by 2 dozens of times. Our government should be creating masks for children and adults on an emergency basis and spreading them to pharmacies, if the virus is airborne, as reported: it is better to be too prepared than not prepared enough.

        I hope that this government does not wind up taking the same step as the Chinese government: mandatory quarantine of the “infected” in various mass locations without any physical separation among patients, as in 1918. Thus, the truly infected will eventually infect those who had temperatures for other reasons.

        Since there will be relatively few ventilators and few oxygen bottles compared to the number of severely ill persons who need them (say 7%+ of all of those infected), those quarantine centers will protect the persons outside but result in many of the erroneously quarantined persons who might have had just a cold or other mere flu (etc.) getting infected and dying, since there would not be enough ventilators, etc., to save all of them.

        Essentially, those centers are places where the Chinese government obviously expects a large percentage of those centers’ inmates to die.

    • char says:

      Barcelona is more complaining abut the Ryanair tourists. And trade fair visitors are not tourists but people who are workng

    • John Taylor says:

      Petunia, you’re committing the fallacy of lumping different groups together.

      Some people complain about the negative effects of excess tourism, but the people who gain from it aren’t the ones complaining.

      It’s kind of like saying that the stupid Americans complain when they don’t get a Republican for president and then turn around and complain 4 years later that they didn’t get a Democrat. The complaining happens either way – by different groups.

    • Spannabis says:

      Spannabis is in March, will it get cancelled? Please Wolf tell us real??

      FYI, Spannabis is the biggest Cannabis Meetup on earth, annual even int Barcelona.

      • Gandalf says:

        China still has the death penalty for anybody caught with more than 50gm of cannabis so I doubt there will be any participants from China there

        • China Boy says:

          Simply not true, in Dali the old women openly sell cannabis at the market. In one ounce bags for $5 USD; Cannabis smoking and tea is super common in Yunan and mountain tribe peoples of China.

          The reality is most drugs are quite legal in China.

          In Taiwan ( a USA colony like Japan ) the possession of 0.01 Gram of any drug is 5-10 years in prison work camp. Last year an American teacher in his 50’s slit his own wrists & died in court after being sentenced 5 years in prison for possession of one opium poppy that he used to make tea so he could sleep.

          In China you can openly buy&sell Opium seeds to grow your own Opium Poppy’s for home cultivation, google it on,

          Don’t fool yourself with propaganda

      • alberta says:

        Dont inhale, wear your trimmin gloves and bogart that j

    • Frederick says:

      My German nephew had has camera stolen from right under the outdoor restaurant table we were eating at May be politically incorrect but it was a very young Roma child who scooted under and snatched it from literally right under our noses Barcelona is bad like that In Warsaw the police deal with that problem efficiently One reason I love Eastern Europe

      • Xabier says:

        He was lucky: the Roma commit far worse crimes than that in Spain, often violent street robberies targetting the frail and elderly, and house-occupations where they wreck the joint while the tortuous legal process to get them evicted grinds on for many months, in which time whatever isn’t trashed is stolen.

        An unmitigated curse. But, for some reason, municipal politicians turn a blind eye to it.

    • X-Pat DE says:

      @Petunia: Wish there was a “LIKE” for the comments. Also my first thoughts …

  2. taleb says:

    It was not a black swan!
    It was a pangolin!
    Arent there Mcdonalds?

  3. David G LA says:

    ?????? What?

  4. CoCosAB says:

    I like VIRUS! They cause a decrease in pollution… and waste!

  5. 2banana says:


    And I was hoping to get some bat stew at the local wet market…

    • Saltcreep says:

      I had beaver stew a couple of weeks ago. And I’m sure a nice stir-fry of one of those big Asian fruit bats would be pretty tasty too!

  6. Alberta Davidson says:

    Research 5g radiation poisoning and overlay the systems with Corona virus.

    Wuhan is epicenter of 5g rollout.

  7. Willy Winky says:

    This is behind a paywall. But a very important analysis so I am posting it in its entirety.

    NOTE – so China goes back to work – what happens when some factory workers show up to work with the virus but without symptoms – and spread the disease? That one cruise ship now has 174 infected passengers…..

    China cannot fight coronavirus and avert an economic crisis at the same time

    China is losing its battle against the 2019-nCoV viral enemy – we must brace for a global pandemic

    China must be nearing the point where the social and economic costs of trying to stamp out the coronavirus by totalitarian methods are greater than the trauma of letting it run.

    A normal country would eventually conclude that the more rational course is to accept that the disease can no longer be contained (given the three lost weeks of the Wuhan cover-up), treat it as a form of turbo-charged winter flu, and direct all efforts instead at managing care more coherently.

    The focus would then shift to a different objective: trying to lower the death rate from apparent 1918 Spanish flu levels of 2pc to plausible levels below 1pc – still 10 times influenza flu – through anti-virals, IV drips, oxygen, and all kinds of small frictions (yes, even face masks) to lower dose thresholds and potentially virulence.

    But China is not normal and the Communist Party cannot easily follow this logic. It has almost certainly gone beyond the point of no return by declaring a “people’s war” and imposing lockdowns of different sorts on more than 400 million people, and by implicitly making defeat of the contagion a test of its ruling legitimacy.

    It seems condemned to doubling down at this point since Guangzhou, Chongqing, and Changsha are already riddled with the virus. This political choice has big global economic consequences.

    Taoran Notes – the voice of Xi Jinping’s inner circle and the medium that China experts follow very closely – hinted last night at a very nasty policy of police/military coercion in Hubei and virus hotspots. Anybody who is possibly infected must be “rounded up and placed in quarantine centers”. It is going to be Uighur treatment for tens of millions, or indeed a page from Mao’s most demented moments of social and economic havoc.

    Taoran also says that Xi enforcer Chen Yixn – a sort of Beria for those familiar with Stalinism – is being sent to take over Wuhan and impose the new security regime.

    Where do we now stand? Regions making up two-thirds of Chinese GDP have been closed since late January. It appears that few people have actually returned to work this week.

    There are a number of proxy measures to keep track of this. One is traffic congestion across 100 cities published daily with a slight delay by AMAP, China’s version of Google maps.

    So far there is no visible rebound.

    Another is property sales in 30 big cities released every day (amazingly). Sales have collapsed to zero and have yet to show a flicker of life. Capital Economics updates each chart daily on its coronavirus page, open to the general public.

    Property is a slow-burn issue compared to ruptured manufacturing supply chains, but by March it will start to bite for developers with dollar debts on Hong Kong’s funding market.

    Companies deemed “stressed” (borrowing costs above 15pc) have to repay $2.1bn of offshore dollar notes next month. Standard & Poor’s says they rely on a constant flow of sales to cover past debts.

    Some 25 provinces and municipalities were supposed to go back to work this week but this clashed head on with virus control measures.

    Companies may not reopen plants unless they can track the exact movements and medical data of each worker, and comply with a 14-day quarantine period where necessary (we now learn the incubation may in fact be 24 days). Officials dare not be lenient after Xi Jinping’s latest tirade.

    The Guangzhou authorities have ordered plants to remain closed until early March in large parts of the city with warnings of ferocious penalties. Apple supplier Foxconn has yet to restart its core iPhone plants in Zhengzhou and Shenzhen. Just 10pc of its workers have turned up.

    Caixin reports that Foxconn may wait until March before restarting.
    Meanwhile the near complete shutdown of Shanghai’s manufacturing hub in Songjiang belied early claims that 70pc of plants were going back to work.

    A nice nugget from the Wall Street Journal: Lui Guifang’s juice shop at Shanghai’s China World complex sold not a single cup on Monday, except to the journalists asking the questions. Normally he would sell a hundred.

    Global angst is for now largely focused on the car industry, commodities, and shipping. Hyundai, Kia, and Ssangyong have had to shut their car plants in Korea for lack of components. Nissan has closed two assembly lines in Japan.

    This will spread to Europe within a couple of weeks if the crisis drags on. VW, BMW, Honda, Toyota, PSA, and parts-maker Valeo have all announced further delays before opening their plants in China.
    Ole Hansen, Saxo Bank’s oil guru, said it is becoming a commodity massacre.

    “The world is facing the biggest demand shock since the 2009 global financial crisis”. West Texas crude has broken down to $49.80. Clearly the OPEC/Russia chatter in Vienna of cutting output by another 600,000 barrels a day (b/d) has failed to do the trick.
    More share information on

    PetroChina said on Monday that it was cutting its refinery demand by 320,000 b/d in February following Sinopec’s earlier cut of 600,000 b/d. Total Chinese demand has crashed by an estimated 3.2 million b/d so far. We are getting to Lehmanesque levels of disruption.

    It would not surprise me to see US crude dropping into the $30s this month.

    Hedge funds and “spec longs” cut their bullish bets on crude by $20bn last week but there is still an overhang of liquidation yet to come.

    Why did they not grasp the magnitude of this earlier? My hunch: they were misled by the glacial SARS template from 2003, when China was in any case a much smaller tranche of global GDP. They ignored emphatic warnings from top virologists that the fast-spreading pandemic of 1918 was the more relevant model.

    Shipping has buckled. Lloyd’s List says tanker rates have crashed. To be exact, spot earnings on the TD3C Middle East to China route have fallen to $16,000 a day from $115,000 in early January, a pattern replicated for smaller vessels.

    It said “SIRE” ship inspections cannot be carried out in much of Asia. The closure of Chinese shipyards has paralysed drydock and retrofit work.

    This from Richard Meade at Lloyd’s List: “This health emergency has paralysed ports, it has disrupted schedules across all sectors, led to serious challenges for crew management, and prompted a round of container services to be withdrawn, with lines now forecasting issues well into the second quarter of the year. It has thrown the global gas market into turmoil,” he said.

    He told me Lloyd’s is getting reports of ships floating round Asia unable to dock at port after port, and running out of food.

    If Xi Jinping sticks to his “total war” against the coronavirus, his government cannot at the same time launch the meaningful fiscal stimulus that markets are already anticipating. The spending channels are blocked by the health controls.

    All it can do is to keep injecting liquidity through central bank reverse repos, keep ordering state lenders to extend debt forbearance, and further wind down Liu He’s campaign against the shadow banking industry – and kiss goodbye to financial discipline yet again.

    This at least avoids a cascade of defaults and a Minsky Moment for the Chinese debt bubble. But it does not avert a protracted economic slowdown. Caixin reports that services alone are losing $140bn a week and smaller firms will hit a wall within a month.

    My working assumption is that China will lose its battle against the 2019-nCoV viral enemy. At some point the Communist Party leadership will switch tack after much agonising, conclude that it is less disruptive to manage the disease, and shift to total economic mobilisation instead – as the lesser of evils.

    If this is correct we must therefore all brace for a global pandemic. It may already be too late to stop it. The task will then be to tame the virus and hope to buy enough time for warmer weather to slow the spread. It is not the end of the world.

    What does this mean for equities, bonds, and global recession risk?

    I defer to Fed chairman Jay Powell. It is hard enough to understand China’s economy and its global ramifications at the best of times. “The outbreak of the coronavirus has made that exponentially more difficult,” he said.

    • Shiloh1 says:

      Thank you for posting!

    • KGC says:

      Ocean shipping is taking a big hit. I deal with this daily, and I have never seen as many vessel schedule changes as I have in the past week. China is a very small piece of our business, but everything depends on those ports being open to move things around the Pacific. Likewise we are seeing delays in SW Asia now too.

    • Property Confiscation says:

      Wolf will like this, they’re now seizing private property in China.

      About time right? When will this come to USA?

      • Harrold says:

        Behind every new NFL stadium there are home owners who were kicked off their property.

        • Microsoft Eminent Domain says:

          Funny how that works, and behind every NFL stadium is the owner, Bill Gates and his pal mentor Paul Allen.

          Don’t forget the property taxes are exempt too, for the good of the community.

          “Freedom USA” rah-rah, eminent domain, the freedom to pay property taxes, ownership. Littler people pay taxes, big people take exemptions.

          The difference between USA & China, is the difference between a Wolf & a Fox, both will eat you, but the Wolf in USA doesn’t care about Confucian philosophy.

          Funny thing is China generates 10x more Billionaires than USA every year, and 1,000X more millionaires every month. Talk capitalism, why don’t we?

    • Xabier says:

      The Wuhan Virus, or Xi’s Special Gift to the world, will probably become part of our lives – just as typhus and TB used to be – taking a steady annual toll of families while life grinds on as usual.

      The wheels of commerce have to continue turning, quarantines are simply not viable long-term.

      We should all reconcile ourselves to the prospect of catching it at some time over the next few years, and hope to be among the 80% or so in whom it is ‘mild’ and recovery certain.

      A vaccine might change that, but it would be at least two years away as far as one can tell, if it ever arrives.

    • R Hughes says:

      Another thank you for a very factual report.

      Also close friend in USA manufactures in China and talks daily to factory, all is down, no restart, owners scared, workers do not come, lots of automation, but no techs to adjust, fix, program, ect., so all stop.

    • I agree that China cannot both stimulate the economy and contain the virus. As we’ve often discussed here, the types of stimulus used were not a good idea to start with, and it’s better for almost everyone in the long run to stop the run-up in borrowing and debt in any case. Extra benefit. Stopping the virus now is better in the long run, as is also stopping the bubble now.

  8. Mike G says:

    Are there any numbers out on whether this is starting to substantially affect US tourist locations that receive a lot of Asian visitors?

    • Frederick says:

      With so many canceled flights from Asia I’d have to think it has

    • MCH says:

      well, the answer to that is probably pretty simple. Just look at the number of Chinese tourists coming in from February and March over the last three years, and make an adjustment from trending. And I’m sure you can get a fairly good estimate. I would assume that the DOT and DHS probably has pretty good statistics there

      SF, NY, LA, those are the cities that will get whacked the hardest.

      • BaritoneWoman says:

        “SF, NY, LA, those are the cities that will get whacked the hardest.”

        As is all other cities and ports in the Pacific Rim.

  9. Bob Hoye says:

    “…thousands of professional pickpockets…”
    Is this an example of your thorough research?
    Or outstanding drollery?

    • Wisdom Seeker says:

      Oddly enough, the pickpockets and prostitutes may feel the least pain.

      As people pull back on travel spending, Borrowers (such as hotels) lose their income stream. With enough debt and other fixed expenses, they can go entirely broke. Then the Lenders (such as banks and pension funds) which invested in the now-bankrupt borrowers go broke as their investments plunge in value.

      So everyone dependent on the debt/credit bubble is vulnerable – but cash-only “workers” in the black-market “professions” won’t be directly impacted unless they have day jobs, credit cards and mortgages and such.

    • David G LA says:

      I was there last August. My travel companion had his iPhone 10 pilfered out of his front pocket by a distraction expert. On the trains and beaches there are constant public service announcements in six or seven languages to be aware of thieves.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Bob Hoye,


      The article was written by Nick Corbishley, as the byline says. Nick is a Brit who has been living in Barcelona for a very long time, speaks fluent Spanish, reads the local media and other local reports and data. The pickpocket issue is no more a secret in Barcelona than the car-break-ins in San Francisco (car-break-ins here got so bad it became a political issue). Locals know this stuff. Tourists figure it out pretty quickly if they don’t already know — because they’re being targeted.

  10. Carl says:

    Nothing adds up, nothing to worry about but this trade fair cancelled, cruising getting hurt, airbnb feeling it but nothing to worry about?? Maybe not from the virus but forget a black swan event looks like we have the black dragon…..

    • Brant Lee says:

      Can you imagine taking a cruise at the moment? I thought nothing could be worse than sitting on an airport taxiway for hours, but here you go.

      • Ron says:

        lots of Cruise junkies no doubt many will stay low or pick up some cheap fares.

  11. Wisdom Seeker says:

    I fear that China is going to pay a high price, not just for the virus, but for the social disease of distrust arising in large part from the early denial and subsequent cover-up efforts. And the world will share those costs. The precautionary principle is a sleeping giant: once awoken, it is hungry for truth, and will not sleep until trust is restored.

    • JoAnn Leichliter says:

      In short, perhaps Xi and the commies will finally lose the Mandate of Heaven? If that happens, all bets should be off.

  12. Cobalt Programmer says:

    The tech giants could have made a good anti-virus upgrade…
    On the other news, Cruise ship tickets are very cheap now…

  13. David Hall says:

    One dead outside of China plus another in Hong Kong. The number of new deaths per day slowed. Fears diminish.

    US equity markets surged in price faster than earnings growth or core PCI inflation.

    Real estate prices have been rising since 2012. There was a recent spike in multifamily housing starts.

    • Ed C says:

      The market surprises me. Seems like the optimists are fully in control now. The market reacted negatively to the SARS and Ebola scares but not this one? I don’t recall China quarantining whole cities for SARS. Market believes the ‘not as bad as the common flu’ explanation? Are we all just too early with our concerns?

      • Xabier says:

        Well, these days it’s not just that ‘the market’ can be irrational, it is not even thinking at all.

        Therefore, one should not draw any conclusions as to the state of the real world from market valuations.

        Only a fool would look for any sense in it all, except for scams, ramps and manipulations, underlaid by the conviction that stocks will always be supported to maintain the wealth illusion.

  14. Michael Engel says:

    1) The Chinese economy suffer from porosity. Bacteria and viruses can hit them, penetrating through the holes of high debt, causing pain.
    2) Premier Xi is killing the pain by doing a root canal, but curing the
    symptoms will not cure the cause. China economy have plenty of root canals.
    3) The cause : the unstoppable feasting on debt relative to GDP.
    4) Europe suffer from the same cause & symptoms.
    5) Today symptoms are underwater inversion.
    6) The German NR are inverted, pulled deeper by the weight of 3Y.
    7) Gravity between Germany and US caused a UST inversion above water.
    8) UST // Germany rates :
    the 3M : 1.577 // (-) 0.585, the 2Y : 1.466 // (-) 0.636, the 3Y :
    1.423 // (-) 0.651, the 10Y : 1.637 // (-) 0.377.
    9) EURUSD in a downtrend. Est target ; 0.95.
    10) When EURUSD will hit its target EURUSD will popup.

  15. David Hall says:

    CNBC just reported 242 new coronavirus deaths. The virus seems out of control.

    • Iamafan says:

      China’s Hubei province admits a massive spike in virus cases and deaths (14,840 additional cases and 528 additional deaths) per ZH.

      Doubt we are getting the truth from China.

      • Old Engineer says:

        That was as a result of reclassifying suspected cases as actual cases based on X-ray assessment. Or, that’s their story. They certainly didn’t diagnose that many additional cases overnight.

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          Good catch!

          Changing the criteria in real-time compromises the data series (at least until the statisticians loop back to clean it up)… But it makes sense to treat all the nasty pneumonias, even if the defective lab test isn’t coming back positive. The stories about people being denied care and dying just because the nasal swab didn’t test positive were horrifying.

          Until things calm down to where everyone can get tested for a proper diagnosis, the Hubei numbers aren’t going to be too reliable. But it could be far worse.

          Next thing to watch are the numbers for Guangdong, Henan and Zhejiang provinces. Each of the 3 has over 1000 confirmed cases, but is not yet overwhelmed. Assuming honest data, the next week’s numbers will say a lot about the success/failure of the lockdown measures.

          Can’t stop the disease in its tracks, it spreads too easily. Can’t let it run wild, or millions will die with hospitals unable to help. Where’s the balance point? How much quarantine and mitigation is enough?

      • jon says:

        You should take info from ZH with a grain of salt.
        It’s an interesting website but too much doom and gloom!

        • Wisdom Seeker says:

          That’s official data from Hubei Province in China. ZH just messenger this time, not fake news.

        • jon says:

          I agree about being just a messenger.
          But my statement in general stands true.
          The funny thing is: If a stock goes down by a single percent, ZH states this as a ‘crash’ :-)

        • qt says:

          A lot of things can’t be explained. Tesla stock prices. QE but not QE. The fact that Apple stocks hitting record highs when its entire supply chain is in China.

          Fundamental has been out the door since 2012. Nothing makes sense anymore. Bad news is good news. Buying the F***ing dip is better than long term investment. Cash losing, money burning unicorns are great investments. Oh well, QE 6/7/8/9 coming during the next recession so have no fear!

    • MCH says:

      I think with this, you have to look at the rate of change of number of diagnosed cases. If one believes the numbers so far, you would think the virus has peaked or is nearly peaked. But there could be a significant problems with undercounting since they haven’t even diagnosed everyone yet, and heck most of the people are self quarantined anyway, not sure they’d be interested in visiting the hospitals now.

      The number of deaths reported daily will peak after the number of newly diagnosed cases peak. Most of the deaths will in this case be with the elderly or people with immune system that are compromised. (you know, like that 34 year old ophthalmologist who talked about the virus on Wechat… he probably had a compromised immune system… strange how that works)

      • Albert says:

        Numerous posts on the Internet have shown that the progression of cases reported by the Chinese is a smooth curve with the same % of progression up until this latest release.

        No epidemic follow such a smoth curve and constant % increase.

        The numbers released are totally fake.

        No clear and rational investment desicions can be based on fake data.

        Clearly the Chinese government is in coverup mode.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      The US CDC’s weekly estimates for “flu deaths” in the US alone this flu season jumped this week to a range of 12,000 – 30,000 deaths, with up to 31 million people infected, in the US alone. You can multiply that by four or five for China.

      • JoAnn Leichliter says:

        This year’s flu vaccine was not very effective. Every year’s vaccine is a crapshoot, because the strains that are covered have to be projected, not observed, since vaccines have a considerable turnaround time. Hence, some years’ vaccines are better than others’.

      • This is still very preliminary, but New Scientist reports 1/100 deaths for coronavirus, vs. 1/5000 for the 2009 flu (a bad year). The reason: Most of us have flu exposure. Most of us don’t have exposure to bats and their illnesses. Our immune systems are not prepped for this type of antigen ,and it resides in cells along the respiratory tract —- or so it appears at this time. Everything is preliminary. The sometimes long incubation period is very troublesome.

  16. unit472 says:

    I’ve suspected the cruise ship Diamond Princess is being used as a lab rat. An isolated population where incubation times and transmission rates and vectors can be studied. It doesn’t look good as 1 or 2% of those on board are diagnosed as infected everyday.

    I’m afraid the travel and tourism industries have had it for 2020 and maybe even longer unless a vaccine or effective treatment ( other than 3 weeks in hospital ) is developed.

    • unit472 says:

      Might also suggest the Summer Olympics will be a TV only event as will most other mass spectator sports. NASCAR, NFL, European football. Lots of pay cuts heading pro athletes way.

      • Old Engineer says:

        Well, the CDC’s mitigation plan is: social distancing, tele-work, tele-school, tele-medicine. So you could do tele-Olympics.

      • Tinky says:

        “Lots of pay cuts heading pro athletes way.”

        The horror…

      • polecat says:

        Ah, it would be rather, uh, ‘novel’ to see Olympians going through the rounds donning full hazmat gear ..

    • Zantetsu says:

      This topic is the greatest source of conspiracy theories I have seen in a long time.

      How about we invoke Occam’s razor here?

      Viruses happen, people don’t always know the best way to deal with them, this one spreads quickly, lots of decisions are being made with incomplete information or by people who don’t always know what they’re doing, and every decision can be questioned in hindsight.

      There is no government conspiracy here. This is just what it looks like when imperfect human decision making meets a complex problem with lots of unknowns.

      Also throw in the fact that human beings are programmed with a survival instinct to fear anything dangerous that you can’t see, irrationally so, which explains alot of how viruses are seen by the general public and as a consequence dealt with by those in power.

  17. otishertz says:

    I’m so so scared. Never going out in the sunshine again.

    • otishertz says:

      This is a conference about mobility.

      Why don’t they telecommute to the conference?

      Show us how mobility is done.

      • Saltcreep says:

        Wouldn’t that be immobility, though? My wife claims I’m a practiced expert on that topic!

        • otishertz says:

          Variable positioning data transfer falls under the purview of this conference.

          I wonder if “mobility” in this context
          Is not partly code for tracking and monetizing the gps positioning of willing users.

          Seriously, though, why not have attendies telecommute to the mobility conference?

          How many missed sales of sodas and hot dogs are we talking here?

        • Saltcreep says:

          Hey, I suspect the real point for most participants is to sample a few of the top restaurants in Barcelona and then hit every bar down La Rambla, all paid for on a corporate expense account.

        • Saltcreep says:

          Hehe, since you mentioned it, by the way, I reckon it would be quite an interesting, and probably not entirely welcome, exercise in surveillance technology to heatmap the participants over the course of such a conference…

      • polecat says:

        Better yet, just go full-on virtual reality ! No harm No fowl !

  18. GotCollateral says:

    Long bat soup default swaps!

  19. Ehawk says:

    big deal.

    Stock market S&P is @ 30K. 40K is real soon!

  20. China Boy says:

    aliBaba stock is still doing fine.

    That’s the canary to watch in this coal mine, big money bet is this thing will blow off ( the virus )

    There is certainly an agenda in Hubei (Wuhan) this thing had been going on since November, denied in December, and finally public in January.

    Just like the HK riots this thing will end, when they want it to end.

    Never let a good crisis go to waste.

    The thing to remember here is that HK riots were about real-estate all the RE tycoons had been financing the rioters, within a week of the ATM’s getting shutdown the riots ended. Funny thing is they tycoons got the land they wanted for development opened up.

    Now massive re-shuffling of real-estate in Wuhan ( Chicago of China). Now all property can be seized by CCP during the virus crisis, this is a massive opportunity for all CCP players, and pet projects.

    IMHO, the outcome of all this will be a China, even MORE prepared to kick USA economic butt.

    Like they say, in order to make an omelette you must crack some eggs, the fact that the stock-market in China rebounded and his holding fine is proof that the PTB have no fear.

    • Xabier says:

      Hmm, why on earth do people reference the views of ‘big money’ as if they were godlike beings with insight into the future?

      They are not, least of all in medical matters!

      Those who know very, very rich people also know they are often outstandingly clueless outside their own specialism.

      The views of ‘big money’ might tell us something about the markets, etc, and that may be actionable, but nothing at all about the real world – which, actually, they like to distance themselves from as much as possible. That’s the point of being very, very rich!

    • Zantetsu says:

      I am not sure I would categorize it as ‘kicking butt’. The USA has built up, over 100 years, a tremendous amount of capital and leverage, and it’s now being spent to make everyone’s lives here easier and more comfortable.

      Your statement is basically like saying that my maid is kicking my butt economically because I am paying her to clean my bathroom.

      (note: I do not have a maid, never have, never will; it’s just an analogy)

      • p coyle says:

        the USA has, collectively, been eating its seed corn. the other problem is it has been paying middlemen handsomely to “sell” it the same seed corn.

        its like borrowing money to pay for your imaginary maid, since the milkman absorbed all your built up capital in delivery fees over the years. lives are easier and more comfortable. until they aren’t.

    • nick kelly says:

      ‘The thing to remember here is that HK riots were about real-estate all the RE tycoons had been financing the rioters’


      ‘In 2019, the anti-extradition bill protest on 16 June broke the record of largest protest in Hong Kong with nearly 2 million marchers. The 1 July march in the same year with 550,000 marchers, was the largest 1 July march.’ Wiki

      The motive of the marchers was a desire for freedom from autocracy, e.g: To live in a place where a doctor reporting a new illness is not arrested.

    • Gandalf says:

      Disagree with both Zantesu and China Boy.

      1. China is not technologically equal or superior to the US in many areas, especially healthcare, but it has surpassed the US in several areas, e.g. solar panels, battery technology, neodymium and titanium production (US produces none), AI for security control, and possibly quantum computing

      2. The CCP has executed billionaires who fell out of favor before, no way they would let the HK tycoons push them around. Funding mass protests in Hong Kong would 100% guarantee a bullet in the head from the CCP. Not to mention the loss of revenue from the disruption of the protests. Totally fake news that HK tycoons would be funding this.

      3. Not a fortune teller, but my take on the US-China competition is that Xi is setting himself up to be dictator for life.
      In technologically advanced societies this has never ever EVER worked out well. Rigid centralized control always ends up restricting the free flow of ideas and information necessary to make the best use of any society’s reservoir of human capital. The Wuhan Virus fiasco is a classic example – why would any bureaucrat or police force want to suppress the reporting of a possible developing pandemic? Answer: because they can, and maintaining control of society is their paramount #1 goal, and convincing the Central Gatekeepers that a possibly heretical new idea or bit of information might be beneficial is very, very hard.
      Centrally controlled regimes do best at aiming for specific, definable technological targets. The Soviet rocket and space programs are the classic examples. The Soviets excelled and seemed to surpass the US initially, but then could never figure out to unknowns of how to land a man on the moon while the US did
      China’s current phase of developments seems similar.
      If the US de-links from China, that will hurt China much more than it will hurt the US.

      The US, for all its deep flaws and chaotic, imperfect democracy, remains a global engine for new ideas and new technology. It is far better prepared to navigate the Brave New Worlds of technological change than China’s centrally controlled system.

      Xi’s current goal seems to be to turn the diverse, multiethnic, and vibrant Chinese people into the hyper regimented salaryman slaves of Japan (and look how that’s turned out, 30 years after Peak Japan) using AI hyper surveillance and rigid control of the Internet to crush dissent and individual expression and thinking

      • Zantetsu says:

        Not sure how what you said disagrees with anything I said, unless you think “China … has surpassed the US in several areas” is the same thing as “China is kicking the US’ butt”.

        • Gandalf says:

          I disagreed with your analogy of China as our housemaid. Far from it. China has transitioned to a far more sophisticated stage than that.

          They become our source for cheap labor simply to pull their economy up from its largely agrarian base, to industrialize. That was 20-30 years ago. Now that they’ve done that, they are ready to compete with us technologically

      • nick kelly says:

        ‘but it has surpassed the US in several areas, e.g. solar panels, battery technology, neodymium and titanium production (US produces none),’

        It sells solar panels than the US because they are cheaper. Battery technology? The idea that there are big ongoing improvements in batteries seems to haunt this space. One guy was quoting a 3 to 5 % improvement per year. The Li-i battery introduced in 1990 by Japan’s Panasonic is still the battery now. Yes there is constant research and monthly reports of a looming breakthrough. Have been since 1990.

        Neodymium and titanium (and several other rare earth elements) are elements that are mined not created. They occur where they occur. The US can’t compete with Canada in diamonds and we can’t compete with the US in helium.

        • Gandalf says:

          nick kelly,

          Not true. A huge part of why the US is a major world producer of helium but does not produce neodymium and titanium while China produces neodymium and titanium is because of GOVERNMENTAL sponsorship (or lack thereof).

          Helium production got its start in the US in 1915 when the US Army built the first plant to extract it from natural gas in Texas. The US military recognized the strategic importance of helium for use in balloons and dirigibles. More helium plants were built by the US military during WWII.

          Western Canada also has natural gas wells that contain large helium reserves and did at one time in fact produce helium, but the price crashed in the 1970s and Canada shut down helium production. If you Google this topic, you will discover that your country is indeed ramping up helium production once again now that prices have skyrocketed.

          The price increase was due mainly to the embargo on Qatar’s shipping, etc by Saudi Arabia. Qatar, with its helium rich gas wells, had gotten into the helium business, and had gotten ONE-THIRD of the world market for helium. This supply suddenly got cut off.

          Titanium ore can be found nearly everywhere. It is a very common material. That’s why titanium dioxide is used as a white base in PAINT. Titanium rich ore can be found in the US in Florida and Virginia. Producing titanium metal however, is very expensive, and the US military found it cheaper to buy it secretly on the black market from the Soviet Union rather than sponsor titanium producing plants in the US – the famed SR-72 Blackbird was built with this Soviet titanium.

          The Soviets and China both made the investments to produce titanium. China also decided to corner the world market on neodymium production, lowering prices to the point that all the neodymium production that had been in the US closed. As the strategic importance of neodymium has become apparent, an effort to reopen a neodymium mine and production in the US has started again.

        • nick kelly says:

          Like gold, a bit of Ti is everywhere. Not so in economically recoverable ore.

          ‘The most important mineral sources are ilmenite (FeTiO3) and rutile (TiO2). Significant titanium-bearing ilmenite deposits exist in Western Australia, Canada, China, India, Mozambique, New Zealand, Norway, Ukraine and South Africa, while rutile deposits are found in South Africa, India and Sierra Leone.’ Metalpedia

          China has 29% of the world’s ilmenite. The US has no significant deposits of either Ti ore.

          But that was very interesting about the Blackbird Ti coming from USSR via back channels.

  21. TonTon says:

    60,000+ cases today. Unable to realistically confirm all cases. Wuhan in total lockdown as well as much of the rest of the country. The world behaving as if China is on a different planet and everywhere else will be relatively unaffected except for financially.
    If this is as infectious as it certainly appears to be, people will not be caring about a drop in revenue in 6 months. They will be caring much more about how to stay alive.
    There’s never a bad time to be prepared.

    • A Citizen says:

      “Unable to realistically confirm all cases.”

      Nailed it.

      The diagnostic tools are lacking in speed and accuracy and even if they were not lacking in same they are not available in necessary quantity. Even CDC is struggling in this regard. The difficulty of building a diagnostic test with the capability to identify an infection of one specific corona virus in any given human subject in a world already awash in a plethora of corona viruses cannot be understated.

      The bottom line is none of the data regarding the spread of this virus is even remotely accurate. Given the unprecedented Chinese reaction to the outbreak by implementing a massive economy-killing multi-city quarantine\lock-down the current data may be off by as much as an order of magnitude.

  22. WES says:

    The real reason the mobility conference was cancelled was because of the huge number of Chinese expected. Nobody has any confidence that the Chinese are doing anything to stop the spread of this virus! In fact China is still insisting that no one cancel travel to or from China!

    Look at Vietnam. They are refusing all flights from China even if just a refueling stop over! Vietnam also closed land border crossing too! So China retaliates by closing their border to Vietnam!

    If your life depends upon it nobody in their right mind would risk trusting the CCP who couldn’t care less that you live or die!

    If there are going to be a large number of Chinese where you want to go then you are not going to go! Period!

  23. WES says:

    The CCP has only one arm, the security state!

    They have responded to this virus as a threat to their power.

    So the response to the virus is a security one! Not a medical response!

    The early results show the ineptitude of a security response verses a proper medical response.

  24. Sammy Iyer says:

    Australia blocked all chinese visitors/including students or any nationality who had been china with in the last 14 days!
    China got flu, Autrslai is going to have a Pneumania (pun intended)!

    Over the past two decades China has grown from a minnow to a whale in international travel. Not counting mainland Chinese visiting Hong Kong and Macau (about 76 million in 2018), data from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation show the number of Chinese going abroad climbed from 2.8 million in 1997 to about 73 million in 2018.

    This places China fourth in terms of international visits, behind Germany (about 92 million), the United States (88 million) and Britain (74 million).
    Rise of the Chinese traveller

    Besides Hong Kong and Macau, Chinese travellers most visit neighbouring nations – Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, South Korea and Singapore. Next is Italy, then the United States and Malaysia.

    Australia is somewhat down the list – just the 17th-most-popular destination for Chinese visitors in 2018 (1.4 million visits). New Zealand was the 26th (about 448,000).
    But China is now Australia’s largest source of international visitors. Short-term arrivals from China overtook those from New Zealand (the top source for many decades) in 2017.
    In the 12 months to November 2019, there were 1.44 million Chinese visitors to Australia, according to Tourism Australia. This was about 15% of the total 9.44 million short-term arrivals.

    But Chinese visitors contributed relatively more to the Australian economy. The average spend per Chinese trip was $A9,235. This compared with $A5,943 for Germans, $A5,219 for Americans, $4,614 for Japanese and $A2,032 for New Zealanders.

    This meant Chinese travellers contributed about A$12 billion to the Australian economy – or 27% of the total amount spent by all international visitors. International tourism accounts for about a quarter of Australia’s total tourism market. That means, in the greater scheme of things, Chinese travellers help create 0.6% of Australia’s annual GDP.
    Chinese students stayed an average of 124 nights before going home and spent an average of $27,000. This is more than any other nationality. The average spent by all international students was A$22,000.
    Chinese tourists, on average, stayed an average of 14 days and spent A$4,655. The average for all international holidaymakers was A$4,286. The biggest-spending were the Italians (A$7,174), Germans (A$6,028) and British ($A6,011).
    So Chinese students accounted for just shy of 58% – or A$7.1 billion – of all the money spent by Chinese visitors.
    Australia’s travel ban has come just in time to disrupt the plans of thousands of Chinese students coming or returning to Australia. February is normally the peak month for Chinese arrivals in Australia. In 2019, the month recorded 206,300 arrivals – roughly double the average month.

    • nick kelly says:

      I guess Aussies prefer a bad tourism season to death.

      • p coyle says:

        they must hate capitalism. but what can you expect from people who can’t even make their toilets swirl the correct direction?

  25. Michael Engel says:

    1) The coronavirus infected US corp in China.
    2) Within 2Y, the coronavirus will cleanse 30%+ of US corp in China.
    3) They will pack up and leave the Chinese market, after selling
    their assets at 10 to 30 cents per dollar and never dare to come back.
    4) A world dissection in action.
    5) Chinese national co can absorb losses, but US corp cannot.
    6) The coronavirus crisis will not be wasted. It will purify China from foreign intervention. The strong hand will pickup assets from the weak hands, at a discount.
    7) The American giants will be out of the biggest consumer market when it will recover.
    8) For decades China absorbed foreign know how, for free. They became better, dominant and now can cont without them.
    9) China will accumulate US assets at a discount in the next few years and ride the on the next boom and will be the envy of the world.
    10) USD will get a haircut, after the next bull run to USD 120/21.

  26. Augusto says:

    This is just common sense to cancel. Why take the chance? What is hilarious is that no doubt amongst many prospective attendees were stock market Bulls, medical finance experts, running around telling everyone how there is nothing to worry about with this virus, and buy, buy, buy. So tired of the narrative of Greed, where some fake number on a screen is more important than life itself, at least versus the lives of others.

  27. David Calder says:

    I’m a day late in posting but I just saw this on local Seattle TV, KING 5.. King County is sending suspected Wuhan virus patients to local motels as a form of isolation. The county won’t divulge which motels but certainly these would include the low income motels that line Highway 99, The Aurora Highway. Most of these old motels are 3/4 rented long term to folks one step above being homeless, the rest of those rooms are regularly and illegally rented by the hour to sex workers. If this virus is to become a pandemic the county couldn’t have picked a more fertile petri dish.

  28. Gandalf says:

    Interesting takes on the coronavirus outbreak. My two bits here, on stuff not mentioned:

    1. Inflation is coming. Sooo much stuff being made in China, sooo cheap. Well, not anymore, for at least 6 months to a year, depending on how long this virus epidemic lasts in China. The drop in the cost of durable goods over the last 20 years has largely been due to automation and globalization, with China a huge part of that. When items made in China suddenly become unavailable, their prices will skyrocket. This may not show up in the BLS calculations of the CPI since they will probably hedonic and substitute their way to a lower fake CPI, as usual, but you will feel it

    2. Yes suppliers will shift to other countries, and long term this will slow down China’s growth and de-link it from the US more. But this was happening anyway, as China’s labor force was getting more expensive and the trade war had started companies on the path to rerouting their supply lines away from China

    3. This shift of suppliers away from China is still in early phases though, and will take much more time. Some companies that are especially dependent on China for their products – cellphones, laptops, TVs, generic medications (yep, read that label! Lots of generic meds come from China now) will suffer

    4. Will this cause a recession in the US? I’ve come to the conclusion that the US economy has been trying to go into a recession since at least 2015, but each time something looks bad the Fed does more QE or lowers rates, and then there was that corporate tax cut. All of this has resulted in a vast amount of corporate, federal, and consumer debt. That’s what been propping up our consumer and service economy. Debt out the wazoo and then more debt. This much debt has to blow up at some point, but predicting when is like predicting when and where the next big super hurricane to hit the US will be. A complex stew of factors governing a non-linear event that you know is coming sooner or later

    • Willy Winky says:

      It will not be possible to shift even a fraction of the China factories to other countries before the supply chain chokes off and the shelves go empty.

      There are literally tens of thousands of factories in China – you cannot just pick up and move elsewhere.

      It would take years to make something like that happen, and it would need to be gradual.

      Companies are already running out of components and no doubt retailers are soon going to run out of stock.

      If this does not get resolved within a month at most, the global economy is in for a massive earthquake.

      I fail to see how China can get things back on track in a month given the current dire situation there.

      BTW – my mate who runs a trading company and works with factories in China just emailed me and they are telling him at least mid March to get his production back on track (that obviously assumes the virus has abated by then – recall SARS took 6 months to taper off – and it was never out of control in China)

      He is headed to Phuket to chill for a couple of weeks because no factory production means no point in being in Hong Kong/China.

      • makruger says:

        The potential is there for this to get really, really bad. What better to bring down epic levels of froth than a global pandemic?

  29. Willy Winky says:

    It does not appear that the factories in China are re-opening:

  30. Willy Winky says:

    Doesn’t look like hot weather will stop the virus – Singapore is always hot and humid, while HK is in the middle of its winter – yet Singapore now has more cases than HK’

    Singapore: nine new coronavirus cases, no plans to raise outbreak alert to red

    Health minister Gan Kim Yong confirmed the government has no plans to raise the Dorscon level as the island nation’s total number of cases hits 67

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